NEW YORK—FBI agents raided the office of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer and self-described “fix it guy,” on Monday in New York City, seizing materials related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to AVN Hall of Famer Stormy Daniels, according to a New York Times report published Monday afternoon.
The agents, according to the Times report, carried out the raid based on search warrants which were referred to the FBI by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting an ongoing investigation of Trump’s possible collusion with the Russian government in the 2016 presidential election.
But while the FBI agents reportedly seized documents and evidence on a number of cases, the raid may have had nothing to do with Mueller’s Russia probe. Instead, Mueller appears to have uncovered evidence of other potential wrongdoing in the course of his Russia investigation, and tipped off federal prosecutors about what he found.
The agents seized “Cohen’s computer, phone and personal financial records as part of the search of his office at Rockefeller Center,” according to a Washington Post report on the raid. They also took “privileged communications" between Cohen and Trump, The Post reported.
According to a report on the Vanity Fair magazine website Monday, the feds raided a room in the Loew’s Regency, a luxury hotel on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The magazine said that Cohen was staying in the hotel and that the FBI raided his room.
Whether the reported hotel raid came in addition to the office raid reported by the Times, or whether one of the two publications reported the location of the raid incorrectly, was unclear as of Monday afternoon.
“Today the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York executed a series of search warrants and seized the privileged communications between my client, Michael Cohen, and his clients,” said Stephen Ryan, the lawyer who represents Trump’s lawyer. “I have been advised by federal prosecutors that the New York action is, in part, a referral by the Office of Special Counsel, Robert Mueller.”
Ryan also slammed the raids on Cohen as "completely inappropriate and unnecessary."
Cohen has acknowledged making the $130,000 payment to Daniels less than two weeks before the 2016 election, but has denied that paying Daniels to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006 was intended to influence the election.
Multiple complaints have been filed with the Federal Election Commission claiming that the payoff was, indeed, intended to influence the election and a result, would constitute an illegal campaign contribution.
While it is possible that election law violations were the reason Mueller forwarded evidence to the federal prosecutors, that possibility remains solely a matter of speculation.